Joint security forces kill four indigenous Papuans in Nembukteb Village, Kramongmongga, Fakfak – Human rights organisations demand independent investigation

Joint security force members carried out a series of raids in the Kramongmongga DistrictFakfak RegencyPapua Barat Province. The raids began on 16 August 2023, one day after unknown perpetrators set the district office and a school on fire. The Kramongmongga District Chief, Mr Darson Hegemur, was killed during the incident.

Security force personnel killed five suspects during two separate raids on 31 August and 9 September 2023. One on 31 August in Mamur Village and four on 9 September in Nembukteb Village. Twelve other villagers, including women and children, were arrested in different locations. According to the information received, the police pressed charges against seven detained suspects (see below). Five other suspects were released after being interrogated. About 500 indigenous Papuans living in the villages of Mamur and Nembukteb reportedly fled into the forest in fear of being arbitrarily arrested.

The Head of the public relations department of the Papua Barat Regional Police (Polda Papua Barat, Commissioner Adam Erwindi, claimed that the officers released warning shots but had to kill five suspects because they resisted the arrest. One police officer was reportedly injured with a knife during the raid on 9 September. Erwindi declared that his men followed criminal procedure and succeeded in seizing bows and arrows, machetes, and a grenade during the raid on 9 September 2023 as evidence.

The police statement contradicts witness testimonies collected by human rights defenders on the ground. The witnesses stated that security force members instantly released aimed shots at victims in both incidents. Moreover, security force members buried the bodies at the Covid-19 public cemetery, Fakfak district, on 10 September 2023 without informing the victims’ relatives. The Manokwari Institute for Research, Assessment, and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari) has called upon the National Human Rights Commission to conduct a preliminary investigation into the allegations of extra-judicial executions during the raids in Kramongmongga.

Human rights defenders allege that the security forces lack professionalism, using excessive force during operations in Kramongmongga without following the principle of proportionality. The principle is at the heart of many human rights claims, as any restrictions must be a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.” The allegations are backed up by other mistakes by investigators during the investigation.

The Papua Barat Regional Police (Polda Papua Barat) together with the Falfak police released a search list with 17 suspects on 12 September 2023. The search list contained the photo of a Papuan student from Fakfak, Mr Yakobus Tanggahma (see below). As the incidents occurred, Mr Tanggahma moved to the Fakfak student dormitory in Jayapura for his studies. He was not in Fakfak as the series of incidents occurred. Other students living in the Fakfak student dormitory in Jayapura stated that plain cloth officers repeatedly came to the dormitory to look and ask for Yakobus Tanggahma. Polda Papua Barat took the pictures off the list on 14 September 2023, after Mr Tanggahma and his lawyers filed a complaint to the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua).

The situation in Kramongmongga is likely to remain tense, and further internal displacements are expected to occur. The Papua Barat Police Chief, Daniel TM Silitonga, declared on 14 September 2023 that he would deploy additional police personnel. Silitonga also gave the order to intensify security patrols across Kramongmongga.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Nembukteb (-2.7963779197929655, 132.42091797337957)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Barat Province, Fakfak Regency, Kramongmongga District
total number of victims: five
period of incident: 09.09.2023
perpetrator: other security forces
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: extra-judicial killings, indigenous peoples
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Otis Hanabamale32indigenousexecution
1Nason Hindommale34indigenousexecution
1Simon Kramandondomale49indigenousexecution
1Neiman Gehabmale25indigenousexecution